Kid Lit Review of “Awesome America: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the HIstory, People, and Culture” by Katy Steinmetz

I was pretty impressed with this book. It has loads of photos and sidebars with interesting facts, and is colorful and fun. While it doesn’t give enough coverage (in my opinion) to the struggles of non-whites for a place at the table, it doesn’t ignore them either. It could also have included more on labor and the conflicts between corporate accumulation of wealth versus the rights of workers, and the reasons why it has been so difficult historically to impose restraints on the wealthy. The whole system of funding and contributing to political campaigns still plays such a large role in America’s political process, from debates over bank regulations to debates over gun controls, that it seems worth some mention.

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Most importantly, there really should have been more on the role of the U.S. Government in the massacre of Native Americans. Even now, following the Orlando shooting of June, 2016, in which 49 people were killed and 53 others were wounded, the media call this event “the deadliest shooting in American history.”  This characterization ignores previous mass shootings in this country, such as the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, in which 165 Cheyennes and Arapahos, two-thirds of whom were women and children, were slaughtered by the Colorado Militia, and the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, in which more than 150 Native American women, children and elderly men were killed in cold blood by U.S. Army troops, just to cite two of the most egregious examples.

But I do appreciate that the author never used the phrase that Columbus “discovered” America, and in fact is quite explicit in pointing out that native peoples lived here first. And the author does mention the “Trail of Tears” initiated by President Andrew Jackson, although it is not identified as such.

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On additional positive notes, and there are many for this book, the author includes sections on music and the arts, on sports, inventions, hobbies, top tourist spots in America, American slang, and regional foods and sayings. Women and minorities are fairly well represented. Not only U.S. Presidents, but First Ladies get a section, and there is plenty of information about the physical characteristics of the country.

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The final chapter provides a year-by-year timeline with historical highlights, and a glossary, annotated list of websites, and a short list for more reading completes the book. There is an index, but unfortunately it is very inadequate. But you can download a curriculum guide, here.

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Evaluation: Overall, this is a great addition to any home or school library, or as an accompaniment for a summer road trip (and yes, there is a section on Route 66!) There are more than 800 illustrations in this beautiful book.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Time Inc Books, 2016


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2 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “Awesome America: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the HIstory, People, and Culture” by Katy Steinmetz

  1. Just saw another blogger’s review that said the same thing. Must be good.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I loved this book too. Yeah, our government (and the media) don’t consider any shooting they’ve done to be a massacre.

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